Canada Post to tailor services to Northern, Indigenous community needs

New strategy aims to tackle limited mail service, high costs, low wages

Canada Post announced its new reconciliation strategy Nov. 17, as a response to the Truth and Reconciliation Commission’s recommendations. (Photo by Emma Tranter)

By Mélanie Ritchot

New post offices, more Indigenous staff and better access to the e-commerce economy are among commitments Canada Post is making in its new Indigenous and northern reconciliation strategy.

The strategy, announced Nov. 17, is Canada Post’s response to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission recommendation that calls on corporations to include in their policies elements like ensuring Indigenous peoples have equitable access to jobs and can sustainably benefit from the economy.

“We’ve got a lot of communities that, from my perspective, have not received postal services based on past assimilation policies,” said Dale LeClair, Canada Post’s director of Indigenous and northern affairs.

Many communities across Canada’s North have limited mail services, high postage costs and insufficient wages for workers. From long waits in line for packages in Iqaluit to staffing shortages in Rankin Inlet, communities across the North are familiar with mail-related frustrations.

Canada Post currently offers some level of service in all 25 Nunavut hamlets.

It is currently in discussions with 30 communities across the country about increasing postal services. Communities will be prioritized based on their needs, said LeClair.

“I would encourage all communities to reach out,” he said. “We need to identify those critical areas.”

New funding

The strategy calls for new post offices for some communities and improvements, such as parcel lockers, for others that already have post offices.

LeClair said many post offices will “see a marked improvement in the level of compensation they receive” once a new compensation strategy launches in January 2021.

“They can more effectively operate their post offices with more stability, not worry about losing money and hire people at a living wage,” he said.

Indigenous staffing

Canada Post has committed to hiring more Indigenous employees.

“If there’s a standalone post office run by Inuit people that would be better, but they currently can’t afford that,” said Chesterfield Inlet Mayor Barnie Aggark. Mail services in his community are currently contracted to the local Northern Store.

LeClair said Indigenous staff recruitment will be done “very differently” from Canada Post’s typical approach to reduce employment barriers and it could include new training and apprenticeship opportunities.

For example, people in communities with limited internet connectivity cannot easily access Canada Post’s online job application system.

Job requirements could also change based on a community’s needs.

“We put Grade 12 in our job postings and, all of a sudden, we remove a great portion of good workers, so we’ve removed that from our requirements,” said LeClair about Canada Post’s recruitment process in Iqaluit.

Iqaluit Mayor Kenny Bell said “they need to up their wages and benefit packages across the board.”

E-commerce participation

Canada Post also says it will help businesses in the North participate in the e-commerce economy by helping them ship out their products more affordably and reliably.

“We’ve got a commitment to focus on Indigenous businesses and really look at economic reconciliation and do our part,” said LeClair.

Alcohol and illicit drugs

The reconciliation strategy includes limiting the amount of alcohol and illicit drugs entering northern communities through Canada Post.

LeClair said this will include new package scanners, inspection teams, as well as an anonymous tip hotline launching in the new year.

This will be especially important to limiting illegal substances entering dry communities in Nunavut, said LeClair.

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(19) Comments:

  1. Posted by Putugu on

    We’re want to have own too

  2. Posted by Eli Aullaluk on

    Dale LeClair, I hope your new strategy will include Nunavik. It is what we need.

  3. Posted by Allan Baikie on

    I worked for Canada Post for thirty one years in a northern community that for most years being lead by Newfoundland island management and some years lead from Ottawa.I found that southern management doesn’t know enough about the workings or needs of northern communities to provide what is needed.They would come for a visit now and again and agree with what you told them go south and forget about it.What is needed is more input from people that know what is needed and what will work.Thank you.

  4. Posted by Paradigm Shift on

    These corporate statements made in an effort to appear on the side of things like reconciliation and justice are curious in that they so often connect to superficial issues. Indigenous employment is a good example. Let’s take Rankin, where there has been a chronic shortage of workers for a long time. The idea that an Inuk might somehow be discriminated against getting a position because of their identity is non-sense and a red herring.
    .
    Also, consider: “We’ve got a lot of communities that, from my perspective, have not received postal services based on past assimilation policies,” said Dale LeClair…
    .
    What communities aren’t receiving service? Does a statement like this even mean anything? I suppose it is a signal that Canada Post wants to appear sensitive and non-racist? To be on the side of the good in terms of reconciliation. Surely this is the spirit of the times. Yet, I think we would be right to expect something at least intelligible, not just a word salad of feel good social justice bromides?

    • Posted by Miles Morrisseau on

      It is so interesting how people can talk about the Government’s failures and the average Canadian will agree. If you say it has failed Indigenous Peoples suddenly they get all defensive. That is a well trained mind. Racism takes effort.

      • Posted by No Effort on

        Claiming everything is racist and discriminatory without proof or evidence takes no effort in 2020 yet gets picked up as unequivocal truth. It’s fashionable to tout this line nowadays even if it doesn’t apply. We all know almost any Inuk with a pulse can walk into CP today and start to work immediately. But Why would they? There are 1000s of other jobs in town for more pay.

  5. Posted by Waat? on

    I’m confused about the following statement: “We’ve got a lot of communities that, from my perspective, have not received postal services based on past assimilation policies,” said Dale LeClair…
    .
    Is this saying some communities aren’t receiving service? The article states “Canada Post currently offers some level of service in all 25 Nunavut hamlets. So, what does this actually mean? Maybe I’ve misread it, granted it’s a murky statement that has not been made very clear.

  6. Posted by Can’t be worse on

    I have only seen service deteriorate in Iqaluit. What post offices in southern Canada operate 830-6 only? They have added hours to deal with a massive backlog, and done some things to try and save people from being stuck outside waiting, and I commend Middle management for working with what they have (liked the car drive through idea). It seems between low wages and lack of federal funding we are still getting poor service. No one should be waiting in line in -20 for a half hour. I don’t understand why Canada post isn’t delivering since someone has made a business of doing private delivers for $100/mo. When will this place evolve? The federal minister needs to up the game here. It can’t get any worse I hope.

    • Posted by Miles Morrisseau on

      Post Offices in Northern, Remote and Indigenous Communities are making a lot more money than the posts in the South. For example, people pay a lot of bills at the post office, something that people in the south with good internet can’t conceive. We do phone cards, reloadable visas, money orders and money grams. That is like straight profit, no product just numbers and money. Our overhead is pennies compared to the south and so are our wages. Once again you have a corporation taking from our communities and putting nothing back.

      • Posted by Very skeptical on

        Miles, I don’t have the numbers on this in front of me, but I am a little skeptical about some of your claims here. In fact, I suspect you’ve really just made all this up in order to make some kind of point that you wish to be true. Can you dispel my concerns on this?

        • Posted by Skeptical too on

          No mention of the fuel and maitnenace for cargo jets? Maybe they are not CP costs?

    • Posted by WindyDay on

      When I lived in Ottawa, the Canada Post-operated post offices were open to 5 pm. It was only the privately operated Canada Post services in corner stores and pharmacies that had longer opening hours. So, at least in Iqaluit, I have found the Canada Post hours entirely comparable, even if they are inconvenient for a number of us.

  7. Posted by Billy on

    Iqaluit is a nightmare someone will get COVID waiting in line at the main post. One staff with lines snaking around while people come and go through the waiting line to check the mail. It is dangerous and makes no sense while we are in lock down that this continues. The average wait time is an hour at the main post office plenty time for all sorts of exposure.

  8. Posted by articrick on

    Not to mention the long delivery time from Winnipeg to Rankin, a couple hour flight but mail can take couple weeks just to arrive from Winnipeg.

  9. Posted by Smoke and mirrors on

    Ah yes another affirmative action policy. Looks great on paper doesn’t it? Ask the RCMP about their plan to hire more indigenous officers, which has existed for years if not decades. How is the indigenous representation among RCMP officers?

  10. Posted by No Moniker on

    If you have been following the trends over the last few months of the social justice movement you will likely have noticed a push to lower standards in education for Black and Indigenous students all across the continent (Notice, Asian students have been excluded because well, they are the best academic performers of all, earning them the label—’white adjacent’—yes, seriously).
    .
    So here we see a parallel development in Canada Post suggesting that it need not insist that potential job candidates have a grade 12, but only in the North of course. And why not, it’s not like we have high schools and graduates who work hard to get ahead and prove their worth. This is clearly revolutionary thinking, because expecting kids to get educated is so… colonial!?! So oppressive!
    .
    .
    We’ve all noticed this pressure to lower expectations on Inuit in multiple fields over the years, this isn’t new. But before happily jumping on board we should consider what is means and what the longer-term consequences might be. As I see it this is a form of soft bigotry that says Canada Post expects less. You are being asked to make a trade on collective worth and self-esteem, is this what you really want? I think it’s disgraceful and should be called out for it.

  11. Posted by No rights on

    Our service in Nelson House is operated by first nation who think they own . it. Ban people from accessing mail for failure to turn over mail for inspection
    K
    Canada Post solution was to have someone else pick up my mail by submitting a form of authorization. Good luck with that can’t even get inside to see postal clerk.

    Canada Post needs to stand up for its customers. Shame on you Canada Post for allowing my right to send and receive mail

  12. Posted by Shawn Ittinuar on

    here is a revolutionary idea….

    Build a bigger post office that can meet the demand and volume. Employ more people.

    • Posted by Wind on

      Thank you. Practical problem solving. This is what we need.

      I do have to say, too, that at least in Iqaluit, it is likely wealthy people who are complaining a lot because they are the ones who can afford to order stuff, online, and with a credit card, and there is a bit of an entitlement mentality behind criticisms of Canada Post, in the Nunavut community where we probably have the most services and the least to complain about. And improvements have been made. I know there is more to improve but we are getting the stuff we order, aren’t we? Lining up is annoying but at -20, get a grip, we live in the Arctic, it is normal that it is cold in winter and that we may be exposed to the cold at times.

      I also find that the Iqaluit mayor bashing Canada Post using his title as Mayor to assert authority is a little annoying. He is accountable for municipal services and should focus his intellectual and vocal attention and time on that intead of problems that others are working on and that he has no jurisdiction over whatsoever.

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